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National Assembly Powers

Volume 515: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2010

8. What discussions she has had with the First Minister and ministerial colleagues on the proposed referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales. (13140)

I have had regular discussions with the First Minister and ministerial colleagues on the proposed referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales. Indeed, I discussed it with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister on Monday.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her reply. Does she agree that, as devolution develops, we will need a fair constitutional settlement across the United Kingdom, and is it not the Government’s intention, therefore, to address English votes for English laws, and indeed English and Welsh votes for English and Welsh laws?

My hon. Friend knows that our approach to constitutional matters is informed and underpinned by our commitment to the Union and devolution and our conviction that power should rest in the hands of those we serve. Indeed, we have committed, in our programme of government, to establishing a commission to consider what has become known as the West Lothian question, and we are working to take that forward.

When the Secretary of State eventually comes up with a coherent and intelligible question for the referendum on further powers for the Assembly, will she be asking the Electoral Commission to carry out a further consultation on the question she will place before the House?

I feel that I should say to the hon. Gentleman, “Listen very carefully, I will say this only once,” because I heard an interview that he gave on the radio in which it appeared that he had not listened to the answers that I gave at the last Welsh questions. Can I just tell him that I have—[Interruption.]

Order. I apologise for interrupting the Secretary of State, but there are far too many noisy private conservations taking place. I want to hear the Ministers from the Front Bench, and I want to hear right hon. and hon. Members asking their questions.

I am very grateful to the Electoral Commission for its report and the 10 weeks of examination that it gave to the question that was designed by the project board. On Monday I worked with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, and I have considered its findings. We have all agreed that we should accept its findings and take forward the preamble and the question that has been put forward, on an objective and independent basis, by the Electoral Commission, and I shall be making a further statement to Parliament.